By The Associated Press

A look at economic developments and stock-market activity around the world Thursday:



n LONDON — Bank stocks dragged European and U.S. markets lower, with investors booking profits on big gains earlier this week. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed 2.5 percent down at 4,190.11, Germany’s DAX slumped 2.0 percent to 4,428.11, and France’s CAC 40 fell 2.2 percent to 3,009.75.

n FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s unemployment rate jumped by nearly a percentage point to 8.3 percent in January, official figures showed — a trend experts expect to continue as the deepening global economic crisis continues to hurt Europe’s largest economy. The unadjusted unemployment rate rose from 7.4 percent in December, the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said.

n BRUSSELS, Belgium — Business and consumer confidence in both the European Union and the euro currency zone fell to a new low in January, the European Commission said. The monthly survey of how companies and households see the economy is now running at its lowest level in both regions since it started in January 1985, adding pressure on European governments to do more to stoke growth in their recession-hit economies. It fell by 1.5 points in the 16 nations that share the euro to 68.9 and by 3.3 points to 64.9 across the entire EU.

n HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s key stock index climbed in its first trading session of the Lunar New Year, after the U.S. House of Representatives approved an $819 billion stimulus plan that investors hope will revive the world’s largest economy. Catching up after a three-day break to celebrate the Year of the Ox, the blue chip Hang Seng index surged more than 7 percent at the open, then pared some gains. The benchmark index finished 575.83 points, or 4.6 percent, higher at 13,154.43.

n TOKYO — Japanese shares rose, led by financials on hopes for new U.S. efforts to trim bad debt and spur lending. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index advanced 144.95 points, or 1.8 percent, to 8,251.24. The broader Topix index gained 1.8 percent to 818.47. The optimism spilled over to Tokyo, where Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. was the Nikkei’s biggest gainer of the day. The issue soared more than 13 percent to 3,810 yen, pushed higher after it reported better-than-expected earnings the previous day.

n DUBLIN, Ireland — The Irish Central Bank forecast that the country’s economy will shrink 4 percent this year and unemployment will jump to a 13-year high as the collapse of the housing market hurts the wider economy. The dour economic outlook is driving government-mediated negotiations this week between labor unions and employers on a plan to cut 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) from public spending in 2009, chiefly by slashing or freezing the salaries of state-paid employees including police, teachers and nurses. The goal is to keep Ireland’s swelling budget deficit under 10 percent of its gross domestic product.

n MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine economy grew at its slowest pace in seven years in 2008 as the global financial crisis took a toll on services and industry while agriculture wilted from typhoon damage. Growth in gross domestic product slowed to 4.6 percent last year from a three decade high of 7.2 percent in 2007, the government said.

n KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s budget deficit will exceed the official forecast of 4.8 percent of gross domestic product this year because of a new stimulus package to prop up growth, the finance minister said. The government will raise its fiscal deficit projection when it introduces the stimulus package soon and hopes to ensure the shortfall is not ‘‘too high,’’ Finance Minister Najib Razak was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama.

n WARSAW, Poland — The global economic crisis has finally hit Poland. A string of dreary statistics this week shows that the once-booming economy has started to sputter: manufacturing fell significantly at the end of last year, unemployment shot up and officials are finally admitting that Poland is hurting.

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